There are several resources that can help you better define your career path and identify varying career options. When initially looking for jobs, it’s important to be flexible and keep your options open, particularly since many positions are acquired through networking and it will take some time to build your network here and find your desired position. Here are some ways to begin researching different career paths and options.
Take a Career Assessment
If you are unsure which direction you want to go in or want to learn how you can use your skills in a different field, take advantage of free career assessments offered online that can offer insight regarding which direction you would like to go into. Here are some options:
- CareerOneStop.org Interest Assessment is a free resource offered by the US Department of Labor. The assessment takes five minutes and contains 30 questions, which are categorized into six groups that describe your style. It provides you with the “best” career matches along with basic data on each job. CareerOneStop.org is also a great resource for researching jobs more broadly.
- O*Net Interest Profiler is another free US Department of Labor resource, which is similar to the assessment above, but contains 60 questions. Again, this helps job seekers define their interests and work style based on six categories, while offering possible job matches based on how much training or education you’re willing to take on.
- MyPlan.com provides a free “value assessment” that helps you identify what you prioritize the most in your job. You must sign up to receive the report, which provides you with over 700 jobs ranked based on your answers.
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a well-known and commonly used assessment that categorizes your personality traits into various “types” meant to help you define your preferences in professional settings. The test itself is not free; but there are several free tests online that use the same format. Check out http://www.humanmetrics.com/ for some options.
- Recommended book: “What Color is Your Parachute?” by Richard Bolles
Develop a Career Plan
Take some time to think about which direction you want to go in with your career. Though you may not be able to pick the career of your choice when you are first arriving in Houston, it’s important that you have at least a basic idea of your short and long-term needs and goals.
- Short-term Career Planning should focus on defining your immediate objectives and needs. It’s important to be practical while assessing your current situation and what you should prioritize when job searching. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- Do I have enough financial resources to focus on job searching for a few months? If not, am I willing to take a job below my education or qualification level to make money?
- What are my preferred industries? If I cannot find a job in this industry, what other industries would I be open to working in?
- What industries are growing in my geographical area and how does that fit in with my past work experience and skill set?
- Are there any volunteering or internship opportunities that you can take on to grow your network?
- Long-term Career Planning should include your goals over the next five years and once you become better settled in Houston. This is when you can ask yourself about what industry you would like to end up in and how you can develop your skill set to get there. It becomes particularly pertinent to tap the network of individuals you have met to get more information on how you can get to your desired job. An important question to ask is the following:
- Do I need additional training or education for my desired job? If so, what is the career path for this position and do I currently have enough time and resources to invest in additional training?
- What transferrable skills can I work on developing in my current role?
Research Industries you are interested in
Look at trends and outlooks for specific industries to determine the availability of jobs in the market. You may want to adjust your areas of interest according to what industries are doing well. A good resource is the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, which can be found here: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/
You may want to modify your job goals and objectives (short and long-term planning) according to what you find.
Research Companies and Create Target Company List
Make a list of 10 companies that you would be interested in working with and research their mission statements, products, services and recent news/events. Once you have an idea of what companies you may want to work for, make a “target list.” You want to consistently update this and add more companies. There is a Target Company List Worksheet in this guide under “The Process – Networking.”
Check out http://www.TheReferenceGroup.com, which provides useful information about specific companies and provides you with information about the management teams in teach company. Check the Appendix of “Online Resources” in this guide for more details.
Network/Ask for Informational Interviews
Use your target company list to identify individuals through your network (personal, professional, or online) to get information about the industries, jobs and companies you’re interested in. You can always request an Informational Interview from someone at a company you’re interested in and if you are able to arrange for a meeting, you can ask them questions about their role and the company, but remember to never ask them for a job!
Remember that networking is about research and learning. You may find that after speaking to someone in a job that you think you want, you will reconsider and revise your target companies and desired jobs.